This, my friends, is the 1,000th blog post on Breaking Even.
Now you may argue that other people have written blogs on this site but I have also guest blogged (that’s to say posted on someone else’s blog with a link back to mine) and ghost blogged (that’s to say written blogs on other people’s blogs as them without credit) so I figure I’ve personally written at least 1,000 blog entries over the course of the last seven (!) years since I began my personal finance blog in 2007.
As you’ve imagined, I’ve learned a few things about blogging, mainly by doing and watching other people doing. In summary:
1) A blog post is any coherent idea, from start to finish, written online.
So I could write a two paragraph blog about treating people with kindness or I could write a detailed analysis about why health care is so expensive that covers over 25 written pages.
A blog post isn’t the length of something or what software it’s written in or how many people read it. It is the start and end of an idea, in online form. Don’t listen to anything else anyone tells you about it. If you are writing regularly online in a place where other people can see it, you’re a blogger.
As a rule, my blogs tend to be longer than people recommend them being, but I kind of don’t care. When you know the rules, it’s kind of fun to break them. Also that brings me to…
2) A blog post is your own voice.
I have no dillusions that I’m saying anything amazing. Other people have likely thought (and said) ideas that I am saying, on this blog and elsewhere I’ve written online.
But what makes a blog a blog is your perspective. If you want celebrity gossip, there are any number of places you can go online but you go to Perez Hilton because of his point of view (and maybe snicker at how he reworks photos in Microsoft Paint.) So I’ve never worried about saying something original or so amazing/ridiculous the paparazzi would stalk me outside my house. I just write what I want and don’t care if they like it. No one can fake my point of view.
3) A blog post should be written in such a way that strangers or friends can read it.
I have very good friends and complete strangers who read my blog entries. When I write, I assume that the person reading is reading this blog post and nothing else I’ve ever written. So I will mention ‘My dog Gidget’, I won’t just say ‘Gidget’, since that would lose the strangers.
By the same token, I don’t just blog about Gidget existing because that’s barely interesting to me. I instead blogged about what it was like to get her from an animal shelter, which took my hassle and made it into a (hopefully) useful article animals shelters or people who are considering adopting dogs from out of state shelters. It’s a post a stranger or a friend could read or get something out of, which is always my aim.
If you are Oprah or Gwyneth Paltrow, please ignore this. You can write about you, you, you. But the rest of us need some kind of topic, however general.
4) A blog only gets better with practice and most people are either afraid to practice or lose interest before they get good.
I kept all my old blog entries on this site for a reason. If you want a good laugh, go back and read how seriously I took myself in 2007 when I first started.
Blogging is about a progression. It takes time to find your voice, your style, your point of view. But you can only get that by producing and often. (More on this idea here about how I’m taking this same ‘It’s gonna suck but get way better’ attitude and applying it to videos.)
5) A blog won’t make you rich unless you are very very lucky.
Most great bloggers I know (and I think even the now financially or otherwise successful ones) started blogging because they love to write. And most of the time, it took them years to get noticed. Yup, YEARS.
If you come at it with an unpure motive, people can sense it. You won’t be passionate and you won’t stick to it.
The most my blog ever made me was $15/month in ad spaces. Sure I was blogging daily and I could have written ‘sponsored posts’ endorsing products or stuck ads in more ridiculous places but point is, don’t do it for the money… because it’s not going to work out except occasionally make enough cash to buy you lunch. It’s like enrolling your kid in Little League and expecting they’ll make the pros: it’s sad and vaguely mean to put that kind of expectation on a person, even if that person is yourself.
I’m sure I’ll write 1,000 more blog posts (and likely more) in the course of my life… and if I printed them all out, it would be a couple small books! But I do hope I keep getting better and remember to keep loving it. Because that’s the best part.